Monday, August 10, 2009

Bean Storage

Beans, peas and lentils are the richest source of vegetable protein and are a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.

When legumes are eaten with grains, nuts or seeds, a complete protein can be formed which can suitably replace meat, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy.

Legumes aren’t just used for soups. There are many different ways of using beans, including grinding bean flour for baking (more to come!)

Generally, legumes will keep indefinitely when stored in a cool, dry place.

Determine the quantities of each food item you will need to store.

Since the bulk of the recommended legume storage is beans, here is a basic summary of Do’s and Don’ts.

Store dry beans in a cool, dry place.

Lightly rinse packaged dry beans; sort through them and remove any pebbles, seed pods, leaves or twigs.

Soak your beans! It reduces cooking time by about one half, and saves vitamins, minerals and proteins which can be lost during prolonged heating — exceptions are lentils, split peas and black-eyed peas which may be cooked from their dry state.

Soak beans in plenty of water. Use a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of water to beans (see chart for soaking times).
Place presoaked beans in a pot and cover with fresh, cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer them for the indicated length of time until they are soft and tender.

Store dry beans in the refrigerator.

Add baking soda to hasten soaking or cooking time as it will decrease the nutritional content of the beans.

Add salt or any product high in calcium, magnesium or acid to the soaking or cooking water or beans will not soften (products with these elements should be added to cooking water or any recipe calling for partially cooked beans only after beans have reached desired tenderness).

Use microwave to cook dry beans - microwaving is fine for reheating beans that are already cooked, but dry beans need to be simmered slowly in lots of water to soften, tenderize and rehydrate properly.

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